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Woman Reunited With Family After 50 Years Following Memory Loss

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Celestine Gandy Thompson is reunited with her family after 50 years following memory loss from a fire.

Celestine Gandy Thompson

Reported by April Taylor

Celestine Gandy Thompson left her home in Southern Mississippi in 1957 when she was just 14-years-old.  She settled in Buffalo, New York where she lived for more than three decades.  In 1992, Thompson survived a fire but was in a coma for nearly two years as a result of her injuries.  Upon waking up, Thompson had trouble regaining her memory of her life before the fire and could not remember any details about her family or where she was from.

Thompson reports on a conversation she had with a woman regarding her memory loss.  She states, “The girl asked me, she said, ‘How long has it been, and did you ever find any of your biological family?’  I said ‘No baby, I wouldn’t know where to start.’  She said, ‘Just give me a name,’ and his name [Thompson’s nephew Clarence Woolard] popped up in my head.  So she went into the phone and she found him, and that’s just how this came together.”  Woolard was the only person Thompson could remember.

Once he was contacted, Woolard spread the news to other family members that Thompson was alive and well, and the family planned a reunion.  After more than 50 years of separation, Thompson was finally reunited with her family.  Thompson’s niece Helen Woodward states, “I’ve been thinking about her and wondering would I ever see her again.  Would I ever get in contact again, but I was overwhelmed when I heard from her.  I was joyful.  I was very joyful.”

Thompson states, “It’s a blessing.  I prayed for this day.  That the good Lord would let me live long enough for this day to come together to be with my family again.”  Thompson is now living in Greensboro, Alabama.  Since being reunited with her family, she has learned that she has a total of 23 nieces and nephews, 64 grand nieces and nephews, 66 great-grand nieces and nephews and 34 great-great-grand nieces and nephews.